In only a few short days since Blizzard banned their Hearthstone Grandmaster Champion for championing the human rights of his native country, the controversy has reached international news. Where Blizzard and its Chinese masters had hoped to silence the dissent with the extreme punitive measures, it had the opposite effect, catapulting blitzchung’s message to the international stage. If they had opted to simply do nothing, the player’s stance would have likely barely made it around the Hearthstone community, let alone the wider gaming community, and much less to international audiences.
Now, because they decided to make a martyr out of blitzchung, his message along with Blizzard’s betrayal of American values have made international news. If the company had hoped the protests would die off any time soon it doesn’t look like it. Even after intentionally shutting down the /r/Blizzard Subreddit for a short time, it has done little to abate the growing anger. As the subreddit is now flooded with an abundance of anti blizzard memes further spreading word of the incident and the displeasure of everyone across the internet. For who doesn’t like a good “oof” meme?
Beyond the “oof” memes now spreading out across the internet comes the boycott movement against Blizzard that already has seen numerous people canceling their accounts, including a $10,000 whale. At this juncture the latest Call of Duty game could be one of the worst selling in the franchise’s illustrious history, as the boycott’s growth shows no sign of abating, and it’s crossing over into Activision’s backyard.
Cancelled my subscription to World of Warcraft. I support young people proactively advocating for their freedom and democracy; They are shaping a better tomorrow. Punishing them for their activism is shameful. #BoycottBlizzard pic.twitter.com/LcPG48Axbl
— ᑭᕼᗩYᒪEᑎ (@phaylen) October 8, 2019
If Blizzard wasn’t facing enough external pressure from consumers, now their own staff has begun their own protest against the company.
In the front pavilion of Blizzard’s headquarters stands a statue surrounded by plaques with the core principles of Blizzard written on them. Employees have taken to covering these plaques with paper and tape while letting the public know they also do not support Blizzard’s decision.
Not everyone at Blizzard agrees with what happened.
Both the “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters” values have been covered up by incensed employees this morning. pic.twitter.com/I7nAYUes6Q
— Kevin Hovdestad (@lackofrealism) October 8, 2019
While it is good to see these employees taking a stand now, just remember when the company was censoring people for wrongthink these same employees were entirely silent. There was no outrage at accounts being locked for voicing concern about the Ellie scam. Nor did they want people to be able to speak as they saw fit when they were cracking down on “toxic language.”
Only now that they face international backlash does freedom of speech and one’s right to voice their own political views appear to matter. If these employees want to be taken seriously they should develop some consistency, not just take a stand when it makes them look popular.